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First Things' Year in BooksFor many people, the word "theology" evokes something dry, academic, irrelevant and disconnected from the everyday concerns of life. We surely would not say that about God, so why is our talk about God any different? In this engaging and accessible introduction, Keith Johnson takes a fresh look at theology. He presents the discipline of theology First Things' Year in BooksFor many people, the word "theology" evokes something dry, academic, irrelevant and disconnected from the everyday concerns of life. We surely would not say that about God, so why is our talk about God any different? In this engaging and accessible introduction, Keith Johnson takes a fresh look at theology. He presents the discipline of theology as one of the ways we participate in the life of the triune God. Without suggesting it should be removed from the academy, Johnson argues that theology has to be integrally connected to the traditions and practices of the church. If academic theology is to be genuinely theological, then it has to be carried out in obedience to Jesus Christ and in service to the church. Unlike other introductions, Theology as Discipleship avoids the usual overview of doctrines according to the creed, which traditionally move from the Trinity to eschatology. Johnson instead explains the content of theology by describing the Christian life--being in Christ, hearing God's Word, sharing the mind of Christ. Theology not only leads to discipleship, but is itself a way of following after Christ in faith.


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First Things' Year in BooksFor many people, the word "theology" evokes something dry, academic, irrelevant and disconnected from the everyday concerns of life. We surely would not say that about God, so why is our talk about God any different? In this engaging and accessible introduction, Keith Johnson takes a fresh look at theology. He presents the discipline of theology First Things' Year in BooksFor many people, the word "theology" evokes something dry, academic, irrelevant and disconnected from the everyday concerns of life. We surely would not say that about God, so why is our talk about God any different? In this engaging and accessible introduction, Keith Johnson takes a fresh look at theology. He presents the discipline of theology as one of the ways we participate in the life of the triune God. Without suggesting it should be removed from the academy, Johnson argues that theology has to be integrally connected to the traditions and practices of the church. If academic theology is to be genuinely theological, then it has to be carried out in obedience to Jesus Christ and in service to the church. Unlike other introductions, Theology as Discipleship avoids the usual overview of doctrines according to the creed, which traditionally move from the Trinity to eschatology. Johnson instead explains the content of theology by describing the Christian life--being in Christ, hearing God's Word, sharing the mind of Christ. Theology not only leads to discipleship, but is itself a way of following after Christ in faith.

30 review for Theology as Discipleship

  1. 4 out of 5

    Glenn Wishnew III

    GOAT doing GOAT things

  2. 5 out of 5

    Joe Johnson

    Academic theology is dry, irrelevant to the rhythms of everyday life, and even potentially detrimental for those seeking to pursue a life of deep discipleship. These kinds of charges might strike some as strange, but in the first chapter of Theology as Discipleship, Keith L. Johnson notes that, unfortunately, they are surprisingly common in the contemporary Church. “In fact, many smart and faithful Christians cringe when they hear the word theology due to the negative connotations the discipline Academic theology is dry, irrelevant to the rhythms of everyday life, and even potentially detrimental for those seeking to pursue a life of deep discipleship. These kinds of charges might strike some as strange, but in the first chapter of Theology as Discipleship, Keith L. Johnson notes that, unfortunately, they are surprisingly common in the contemporary Church. “In fact, many smart and faithful Christians cringe when they hear the word theology due to the negative connotations the discipline carries” (p.20). For Johnson, the fact that these charges are plausible in the eyes of so many suggests that, sadly, a perceived divide has developed between the world of academic theology and the everyday practices of Christian life (p.11). He acknowledges that: It is possible for a Christian to participate in the church for years and never engage in disciplined theological thinking about core Christian doctrines or the history of the church’s debates about them. It is also possible for academic theologians to devote their entire careers to the discipline and never be asked to translate or apply the content of their scholarship to the concrete realities that shape the daily life of the church. (p.12) Why has theology garnered such a negative reputation? Johnson brings up a number of possible reasons. For example, he notes that “many Christians believe that the formal study of theology distances us from the most important activities of the Christian life” (p.20). After all, most of us can usually think of someone who lived a faithful life full of kindness and love without ever formally studying theology. Conversely, “many of us also know or have heard about people who know a lot of theology but live hypocritically or without faith” (p.20). Beginning students of theology can also feel intellectually shaken as they start reading more deeply and widely, considering difficult questions and examining their own long-held assumptions about faith. Johnson notes that rather than feeling empowered and equipped to more fully work and serve within the church, “the new theologian often is embarrassed by all that he or she does not know and paralyzed by the prospect of looking foolish when he or she speaks” (p.21). Unfortunately, this leads some people to avoid formally studying theology at all. Finally, Johnson notes that even for those of us who do study theology, we sometimes fail to adequately think through how and why we do so. Hence, part of the goal of the book is to enable people to think more deeply about the aim of pursuing theological knowledge and to more robustly integrate formal theological study with spiritual formation. Why is it so harmful for theology to occupy a marginalized place in the lives of churches? Johnson argues that it is precisely because doing theology is unavoidable (pp.17-18). The phrase, “God is good” is used all the time in church-related contexts like prayer, worship, and scriptural discussions (p.17). No matter the setting in which the phrase is used, though, Johnson points out that every one of these instances involves (implicitly or explicitly) doing theology. He explains: The word God does not sit as an empty concept in our minds. It has a meaning that has been acquired over the course of our lives, some of it by personal experience with God and some through the instruction of others… The same thing is happening with our use of the word “good”… What is the difference between our use of the word good when we apply it to God as opposed to our puppy? The task of answering this question—even implicitly and instinctively—requires the practice of theology (pp.17-18). For Johnson, this shows that, whether one aware of it or not, a person is always already operating with a “functional theology” in daily life, which is made up of “our default assumptions about who God is, what God is like and how God relates to us” (p.18). One’s functional theology works as a kind of pre-understanding that impacts how one interprets the words of Scripture as they are encountered in the text. Johnson actually takes this line of argument one step further, claiming that one cannot really avoid using functional theology when reading the Bible at all since everyone comes to the text with a pre-understanding of one kind or another. Hence, the unavoidable nature of doing theology. The issue, though, is that our functional theology is inevitably imperfect. As Paul put it in his letter to the Corinthian believers, we “see in a mirror, dimly” (1 Cor. 13:12, NRSV).This helps explain the need for the discipline of theology: This discipline came into existence in response to the fact that our functional theology does not always match the reality of God. Its goal is to shape our ideas and words about God so that our functional theology corresponds to the truth about his divine being and character. (p.19) Having set out both the reasons for why theology is regarded by many Christians with suspicion, and why he believes the task of theology to nevertheless be unavoidable, Johnson spends the rest of Theology as Discipleship attempting to build a framework for understanding the practice of theology as being an important part of growing up in Christ (hence the book’s title). He begins by turning to Galatians 4, where Paul explains that believers are adopted as children of the Father through “the Son’s redeeming work and the Spirit’s transforming power” (p.56). Johnson explains that this trinitarian pattern of activity can tell readers a few important things. First, “God’s saving actions in Christ and the Spirit show us that God’s plan is to make us participants in his own divine life” (pp.56-57). Furthermore, he suggests that it also means that “our participation in God through Christ serves as the basis of our knowledge of God” (p.57). One of the major themes that comes up again and again in this book is the significance of “union with Christ.” It is only because Christ has united Himself to us that we are able to participate in the life of God (p.74). How does this directly relate to the practice of theology? Johnson makes the connection when he states that, “As theologians, we pay special attention to the fact that our partnership with Christ includes our act of taking ‘every though captive to obey Christ’ (2 Cor 10:5)” (p.133). When we consider the practice of theology as being grounded in our participation in Christ and worked out in the midst of a life of discipleship, Johnson argues that we will discover that “the practice of theology is one of the ways we obey Paul’s command to be ‘transformed by the renewing of your minds, so that you may discern what is the will of God’ (Rom 12:2)” (p.134). In the final section of the book, he gives a more extended description of what practicing theology within the context of discipleship should look like. It’s a starkly different portrait than the kind envisioned by those who charge theology with being dry, arrogant, and irrelevant: A Spirit-filled life of humble, self-sacrificial love in the pattern of Jesus is the defining mark of a theologian who shares the mind of Christ. Our practice of theology does not merely complement our lives of discipleship to Jesus. This practice is itself a form of discipleship… We do not use our theological knowledge to build ourselves up, exercise power over others or take advantage of our status by utilizing the rights and privileges that come with such knowledge. We use it to build up other people, enrich the church and serve the world in Christ’s name. (p.149) Those studying theology are called to become increasingly humble (rather than brash and arrogant) as they go along (p.161). He also highlights the need for patience and kindness in dealing with others, especially those of differing theological opinions and traditions. According to Johnson, theology is something done for the sake of others, and for him one of the biggest consequences of this is that today it should be oriented towards serving and building up the church (p.172). He comments that, “We will not be able to instruct the church faithfully if we remain isolated from the church’s daily life and practices” (p.172). This ecclesiological orientation also means that both truth and unity are important goals. Finally, and importantly, Johnson ends the book by pointing out that theology should be pursued with joy (p.186). He writes: We find joy because God uses our work to enrich the church so that people might know him better… We reflect this joy in the way that we approach others, not as fault-finders seeking to correct them but as fellow pilgrims seeking to obey God together with them…. There is [also] joy in the process, because we know that the God to whom our words are directed is a God who will receive them, despite all our faults, as an offering that fills him with joy (p.187) Theology as Discipleship is a great reminder for those of us who are fond of academic theology. I would like to delve into the theological groundings of his framework a bit more, so I hope that he publishes a larger, more in-depth study of the subject in the future. Regardless of that, this little book is is well suited for classrooms and theological non-specialists, so in this case its size is probably an advantage. It’s easy to forget that doing theology can be, and should be, intimately connected to spiritual formation. It’s also easy to forget that Christian theology should be done in order both to know God better and to help others flourish. Johnson’s work should help make these things a bit harder to forget, and for that those of us who love practicing theology in the midst of the Christian life should be thankful. *Disclosure: I received this book free from IVP Academic for review purposes. The opinions I have expressed are my own, and I was not required to write a positive review.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Tiffany

    Extremely clearly written introduction to the practice of theology, with helpful summaries at many moments. A few focus areas that were helpful to me were the focus on theology as human participation with God; the centrality of HUMILITY and others-directed service in discipleship generally, but especially in theology, as a following after God whose sovereign Godship is constituted in humility and service. A few points that were less central to Keith Johnson, but were helpfully made significant to Extremely clearly written introduction to the practice of theology, with helpful summaries at many moments. A few focus areas that were helpful to me were the focus on theology as human participation with God; the centrality of HUMILITY and others-directed service in discipleship generally, but especially in theology, as a following after God whose sovereign Godship is constituted in humility and service. A few points that were less central to Keith Johnson, but were helpfully made significant to me were Christ as the fulfillment of time (about which I've been thinking non-stop--and the passages in Ephesians and one other place are quoted several times in the book), a quotation from Augustine that Christ is our homeland and the path to get there, the insertion of the phrase "like a slave" in describing how Jesus served his disciples; the thought that Christ is even now living his eternal life in that same love and service where "he always lives to make intercession" (Heb 7:25) for us (sounds totally standard when I type it here, but it garnered two WOW.s when I read it in context); a connection of the parable of the good Samaritan with theologians (wanting to justify themselves)--which, weirdly, totally made the WHOLE process of self-justification in all people/fields more clear to me. Maybe one really important point to end with was the insistence, at length of a WAY to proceed in theology: " We begin by presuming that every theologian we interact with is just as faithful as we are, and loves Christ just as much as we do . . . .And because we assume that they, too, are joined to Christ and filled with his Spirit, we try to outdo one another in showing honor to them (Rom 12:10). Johnson goes on further here, about theologians opening themselves to others' feedback and critique--with a scholarly work entirely devoted to serving the church and world. If people are thinking about theology textbooks, it might be important to note that this book is a sort of why and how we do theology in a _meta_ sense. A few volumes I like that introduce the broad scope of doctrines themselves are Tokens of Trust: An Introduction to Christian Belief by Rowan Williams (elegant, short, and interested in art); Practicing Christian Doctrine, by Beth Felker Jones (exceptionally clear); and, for reference, Theology for the Community of God by Stanley Grenz (one giant volume). I'm about to read Simply Christian by N.T. Wright, so we'll see about that. As a scholar from a different discipline, though one that touches significantly on theology, I was especially delighted to see the purpose of the field of theology is participation with God and service to others (the church especially). I feel the same about my discipline, but sometimes come to see it so more when I do projects of public service (such as our CoreBook project, in which I help the team that makes events all year surrounding a central text for communities associated with Wheaton) and teaching. When I'm in a ZONE in a scholarly sense, I know why even the frou frou journals work that way, too. But it takes a lot of time and thinking to get there, sometimes. But, then again, if Christ has fulfilled time, maybe that's ok.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Michael Philliber

    Somewhere, somehow, doctrine and deportment, creed and conduct had a falling out and then took different routes. Though they will occasionally cross paths at a fellowship meal or in the church foyer, their meeting is often tense and strained. Onlookers will notice the forced smiles between the two parties as they try to play nice, but it’s clear to all that the relationship has significant stress-fractures. Yet, just as obvious is that the two belong together like a key and a lock. Keith L. John Somewhere, somehow, doctrine and deportment, creed and conduct had a falling out and then took different routes. Though they will occasionally cross paths at a fellowship meal or in the church foyer, their meeting is often tense and strained. Onlookers will notice the forced smiles between the two parties as they try to play nice, but it’s clear to all that the relationship has significant stress-fractures. Yet, just as obvious is that the two belong together like a key and a lock. Keith L. Johnson, associate professor of theology at Wheaton College, has recently published a new 192 page paperback showing how the two belong together and never should have been separated. “Theology as Discipleship” is written with young undergraduates and non-technical readers in mind, demonstrating how “the discipline of theology and a life of discipleship” are “integrally related” in our “participation in the life of God” (12). Johnson recounts the historical backdrop that brought about the separation of the two, and then moves forward, chapter by chapter, showing the various ways they dovetail. On the one hand, anytime we speak about God, we are doing theology, even when “we pray, worship, read Scripture, teach others about the faith and make decisions about how to live in a right relationship to God” (17). On the other hand, theological learning is rightly pursued in the context “of a life of discipleship, because the practices of discipleship enable and enrich our pursuit of theological knowledge” (26). To state it succinctly, faithful Christian discipleship is theological, and the way to rightly study theology is as a disciple of Christ. The rest of “Theology as discipleship” exhibits the two dancing together, fast and slow, swing and ballet, through several of the standard theological categories. Johnson walks the reader round the doctrine of God, the Trinity, who Christ is as God and human, union with Christ, the Scriptures, pursuing the mind of Christ and more. Though the material can be, at places, pedantic, nevertheless there is a shimmering glow, a heart-felt-flame flickering under every subject, and then blazes out in the final two paragraphs of the book. The reader will walk away with Wesley’s words escaping their lips, “I felt my heart strangely warmed.” The author calls to his side several theologians to assist him in his endeavors; Gregory of Nazianzus, Thomas Aquinas, Augustine, Basil the Great, Nicholas Wolterstorff, Robert Jenson, Herman Bavinck, J. Todd Billings, N.T Wright, Michael Gormon, and John Webster to name a few. And quite noticeably, he draws most from Barth, Bonhoeffer, and Calvin. Yet, the footnotes are unobtrusive and undistracting, allowing the reader to stay with the book’s content. Were there items that I found disappointing or disagreeable? There were little things here and there, as with reading most any author. The one that stands out has to do with the Law, and the way Johnson handles it, setting Paul and the Law at odds with each other, “God’s original purpose for the law was for his people to live righteously, and so the true members of his people are not those who still keep the law but those who have their righteousness in Christ by the Spirit. So, once again, Paul thinks that God’s original intentions have been accomplished: (. . . )” (127).The subtle sounds of tense conflict between Law and Gospel, Moses and Paul, briefly surface without further discussion or explanation. I find the author’s statement mildly perplexing, since Paul often rehearses the ongoing value of the law for the Christian, reciting it and expounding it, so that can be said, as it has been said somewhere, the law is not contrary to the grace of the Gospel, but does sweetly comply with it (The Westminster Confession of Faith, 19.7). All said, this was not a show stopper, but simply caught my attention. Johnson’s therapeutic regimen to reconcile the partnership of belief and behavior, the life of discipleship and the discipline of theology, is solid, simple and sturdy. This fine, little book would be ideal for undergrad theology courses, as well as congregational adult classes and book-study groups. It would also be quite fitting and beneficial to hand a copy of “Theology as Discipleship” to the ministerial candidates in your church, your favorite seminarian, and your pastor. And while you’re handing out copies, snag one for yourself. You’ll be glad you did! Thanks to IVP Academic for the free copy of “Theology as Discipleship” used for this review.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Milton Quintanilla

    The term theology is often shunned and disregarded by the modern church today. Personally, I’ve dealt with that in conversations where people say “oh, that’s theology” in an unpleasant tone. This disdain is reflective of how theology is viewed today. Yet at the same time, a disregard for sound theology invites false theology, even if the term theology is not used. That being said, Keith Johnson seeks to reconcile theology as a form of discipleship in the church to day Johnson begins with provided The term theology is often shunned and disregarded by the modern church today. Personally, I’ve dealt with that in conversations where people say “oh, that’s theology” in an unpleasant tone. This disdain is reflective of how theology is viewed today. Yet at the same time, a disregard for sound theology invites false theology, even if the term theology is not used. That being said, Keith Johnson seeks to reconcile theology as a form of discipleship in the church to day Johnson begins with provided a history of theology as a church discipline followed by its dichotomy into academia. Theology was actually practiced in the early church as a means of understanding God and His Word better. However, that changed as it grew in university alongside other academic disciplines such as science. As beneficial as theology was in academia, it ultimately departed from using Scripture as its primary framework. Everything had to be done by human reasoning. Now granted, God has given us reasoning but theology must not begin with ourselves but with Scripture and through Jesus Christ. This is important to understand as we operate under a given framework or as Johnson calls it a “functional theology”. The question is where is our functional theology coming from that affects how we think and live before God? That is where theology comes in, starting with Christ. With this in mind, Johnson further elaborates this point in which Christ must be the primary framework in which everything else in Scripture is defined. As God’s people, we are invited in this marvelous journey of learning as participants. We partake in theology in order to grow in correspondence of God’s character and likeness in our lives. Furthermore, we equip one another as a church as God provides different insights in our lives yet it remains consistent with His Word. That being said, I thoroughly enjoyed this book as it is essential for the modern church to understand that theology is not bad at all (if used rightly). If done from a Christological framework as revealed in Scripture, then much benefit will be provided. We fill our minds so that our hearts would be illuminated and transformed by the Holy Spirit. Not only would one appreciate Scripture more but one’s relationship with God and His people would deepen. Furthermore, it fuels our desire for mission into the world. Overall, this humbles us as we recognize that we are merely recipients of theology not creators nor innovators. We sit at the Master’s feet as His students, always learning and listening. The journey never ends as we continually learn as to how much we did not know beforehand and as to how much more we are to learn. Yet all of this is done joyfully as we grow in our relationship to God and one another. This is not to puff up ourselves with knowledge (like some have ) but to build up one another unto the glory of God. Therefore, I ask you this question: let’s do some theology, shall we? Notable Quotes “The word theology comes from the Greek terms logos, often translated as “reason” or “word,” and theos, which means “God.” We practice theology whenever we think or speak about God. We are doing theology when we pray, worship, read Scripture, teach others about the faith and make decisions about how to live in a right relationship to God. In this sense, every Christian practices theology every day.” “The discipline of theology is the name for the organized practice of theological reasoning that directs our thoughts and speech about God so that they correspond to who God is and what God is like. This discipline came into existence in response to the fact that our functional theology does not always match the reality of God. Its goal is to shape our ideas and words about God so that that our functional theology corresponds to the truth about his divine being and character.” “We cannot place Christ into other frames of reference or other systems of meaning without denying his true status and projecting false images on him. When we confess faith in Christ we are confessing that the history of his eternal life serves as the context from which everything is understood.”

  6. 4 out of 5

    Jo

    To be fair to this book, I think I had some misplaced expectations. I was hoping for something to address the question of how to keep theology from becoming a hobby that has little personal impact. This book seemed promising, but the majority of the book seemed focused on communicating theological content rather than commenting on how to interact with theology. I did enjoy the last three chapters, which talked about responding to the word of God and avoiding specific pitfalls of theology.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Thomas Creedy

    Superb book. Review coming shortly - logging it as I put finishing touches to a related paper for the Society of Vineyard Scholars.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Mikeskinner

    Theology as Discipleship by Keith L. Johnson is an attempt at explaining how the discipline of theology should function as an integral part of discipleship, the Christian call to follow Jesus in worship and obedience. Theology of Discipleship deftly achieves this goal by clearly articulating the need for theology as a vital practice for faithful discipleship. At the same time, Johnson offers a solid and accessible work of theology himself as he explores concepts such as Christology, the Trinity, Theology as Discipleship by Keith L. Johnson is an attempt at explaining how the discipline of theology should function as an integral part of discipleship, the Christian call to follow Jesus in worship and obedience. Theology of Discipleship deftly achieves this goal by clearly articulating the need for theology as a vital practice for faithful discipleship. At the same time, Johnson offers a solid and accessible work of theology himself as he explores concepts such as Christology, the Trinity, and participation in the Triune life while setting the foundation, context, and content of Christian theology. As he mentions at the beginning of the book, the book is largely the result of Johnson's numerous experiences teaching introductory theology classes at Wheaton college. I currently teach similar courses at Houston Baptist University and can easily relate to and affirm the problems that Johnson acknowledges: students often are at a loss for why theology is relevant to their lives as Christians and are also fearful that it will distract them from actually following Christ. The book responds to these concerns in the format of seven chapters: 1) Recovering Theology, 2) Being in Christ, 3) Partnership with Christ, 4) The Word of God, 5) Hearing the Word of God, 6) The Mind of Christ, and 7) Theology in Christ. The heart of Johnson's thesis is that theology is vital to discipleship because it trains us to rightly hear, understand, and use words about God which inevitably influence our religious practices. This emphasis, a key note that Johnson plays throughout the book, reminds me of John Howard Yoder's statement that, "The task of theology is working with words in the light of faith." He rightly notes that without theological training, Christians use an assumed "functional theology" that is often riddled with logical and biblical problems. The choice for Christians is not between theology or no theology, but between good theology or bad theology. After giving a well-reasoned historical explanation for the current divide between the academy (read: theology) and the church (read: discipleship), Johnson situates a proper Christian theology around the revelation of Christ: "The discipline of theology proceeds rightly when it begins from the presupposition that all right thinking and speaking about God, reality, and history takes its bearings from the life of the incarnate Jesus Christ." I think Johnson could not be more right at this crucial point- all theology must be Christologically founded. Taking his cue from Barth, and others, he emphasizes this point repeatedly throughout the work. This leads him into a explanation of how Christians participate in and with Christ. He then addresses the place of Scripture and the church community (both dead and living) in the disciple on theology. He closes by discussing the scriptural calls to have to have the "mind of Christ" and argues that theology is uniquely equipped to develop this mind inside of us and thus allow us to follow Christ faithfully. In this way, theology serves as discipleship. He closes the book with a gem: a list of nine ways that theology must be practiced in order to serve the church and act as a practice of discipleship. If I were the dean or chair of a confessional school, I would have this list framed in the office of every theologian I employed. While Johnson's writing is accessible, I suspect that some readers not familiar with theology might find themselves struggling to keep up with some of his more nuanced theological arguments. Theologians might also be surprised (perhaps positively or negatively) with the amount of Scriptural engagement that guides the book. Those two comments aside, Theology as Discipleship is a refreshing and needed work as it convincingly sets forth theology as an act of discipleship because of its function to clarify speech and thought and to enable a more truthful and faithful understanding of Jesus (and thus, God). Note: I received this book from IVP Academic in exchange for an unbiased review.

  9. 5 out of 5

    John Kight

    Keith L. Johnson is Associate Professor of Theology at Wheaton College. Johnson has an M.Div. from Baylor University, a Th.M. from Duke Divinity School, and a Ph.D. from Princeton Theological Seminary. Johnson has authored or co-authored a number of books, including Karl Barth and the Analogia Entis (T&T Clark, 2010), and published numerous articles related to various theological topics. Most recently, Johnson has published this timely and important volume, Theology as Discipleship (IVP Academic Keith L. Johnson is Associate Professor of Theology at Wheaton College. Johnson has an M.Div. from Baylor University, a Th.M. from Duke Divinity School, and a Ph.D. from Princeton Theological Seminary. Johnson has authored or co-authored a number of books, including Karl Barth and the Analogia Entis (T&T Clark, 2010), and published numerous articles related to various theological topics. Most recently, Johnson has published this timely and important volume, Theology as Discipleship (IVP Academic, 2015), that seeks to build a bridge between the study of theology and the Christian life. Theology as Discipleship argues, “that the discipline of theology and a life of discipleship to Jesus Christ are integrally related because the practice of theology is one of the ways we participate in the life of the triune God” (p. 12) The goal of Theology as Discipleship is to show how the study of theology actually enriches the Christian life and how faithful obedience to Christ rightly enables the learning of theology. Thus, it is a reciprocal relationship that functions best when both aspects are equally involved. Johnson rightly recognizes the contemporary dilemma that characterizes most Christians today. For Johnson, the study of theology has become so divorced from the everyday endeavors of the Christian life that it has become difficult, even for intelligently committed Christians, to figure out how the two relate. Accordingly, Theology as Discipleship opens with an important chapter that helps the reader identify what went wrong and how it can be effectively reconstructed. It is this reconstruction process that dominates the following chapters of the book. As an educator in the context of the local church, I understand that the problem that Johnson seeks to address in Theology as Discipleship is more prevalent than many are willing to admit. In fact, I actually just taught a six-week course that aimed to address the very issue raised by Johnson here, and I wish I had his book prior to that endeavor for a number of reasons. First, Johnson is consistently Christ-centered in his approach and application. Second, his approach does more than provide a hypothetical solution to the problem. Third, his approach and solution are beneficial to both scholars and students. Theology as Discipleship concludes, appropriately so, with nine characteristics that distinguish the life of the Christian who practices theology faithfully within the context of God’s saving work in Christ and the Spirit (p. 156). For example, Johnson rightly argues, we practice theology as disciples, “when our thinking stays within the limits of our faith in Jesus Christ” (p. 158), and, “when we pursue both truth and unity” (p. 176). This last chapter practically and carefully shows the necessity of theology for the Christian life, and why as Christians we should be quick to engage frequently in theological dialog and thinking. It is difficult to correctly articulate the importance of Theology as Discipleship by Keith L, Johnson. Not only is the book well-written and engaging, but the content is challenging and intentionally aimed. In fact, to say that this book is necessary for the contemporary church would run the risk of being an understatement. Johnson has produced a timely and important volume that exemplifies a personal pursuit of faithfulness in the discipline of theology. If you are a Christian educator, pastor, or simply a Christian seeking to live faithfully in all aspects of your life, Theology as Discipleship is a must read book—sooner than later. I received a review copy of these books in exchange for and honest review. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Chris Woznicki

    Theology is irrelevant to our life as Christians. At least that’s what many evangelicals tend to believe. There is this thought that runs through much of evangelicalism that theology is either irrelevant because we should be focusing on practical things. There is also another line of thought that seems to believe that theology is dangerous because it is divisive, and has the potential to confuse people about God. Keith Johnson in Theology as Discipleship argues that neither of these are the case. Theology is irrelevant to our life as Christians. At least that’s what many evangelicals tend to believe. There is this thought that runs through much of evangelicalism that theology is either irrelevant because we should be focusing on practical things. There is also another line of thought that seems to believe that theology is dangerous because it is divisive, and has the potential to confuse people about God. Keith Johnson in Theology as Discipleship argues that neither of these are the case. In fact, theology is vitally relevant to our lives as Christians and it actually has the ability to help us grow in Christ. Or as he himself puts it: The traditional goal of Christian theology is to develop a better understanding of God so that we can think and speak rightly about God within the context of a life governed by our faith in Christ and our discipleship to him in community with other Christians. (34) Keith Johnson writes theology in a truly “gospel-centered” manner. By Gospel centered I don’t mean what people typically mean by “gospel centered,” I mean a fully rounded out gospel which places union with Christ at the center. Johnson begins by explaining where theology went “wrong” (i.e. anti-intellectualized & over-academia-ized). He then explains what it means to do theology from the standpoint of our union with Christ. Part of theology’s purpose is to help us to know Christ and grow in our understanding of our union with Him. The way this happens is through the use of Scripture and the hearing of God’s word. As we listen to scripture and hear God speak our mind, our thoughts, and out theology becomes conformed to the mind of Christ. This short book is super helpful and I would encourage anyone that is interested in studying theology to pick it up. I would especially encourage anyone who is going to bible college or seminary to read it before they dive into the study of theology. The fact that he includes explicit sections of exegesis in each chapter is a breath of fresh air, and it’s a great way of modeling how to do theology. His final chapter, “Theology in Christ” is another highlight of his book. In it he lays out 9 thesis for what it means to do theology as discipleship. Overall this is a great little book which reorients theology around its true purpose, growing in Christ and serving the church. Note: I received this book courtesy of IVP in exchange for an impartial review.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Sooho Lee

    **true rating 4.5 If Socrates claims, "the unexamined life is not worth living," then Johnson might equally claim, "the undisciplined life is not worth theologizing." There is beauty in examining the life of God (theology) and creation in light of it. However, like all human endeavors, beauty diminishes in value and power when the gardens of our souls seize to be tended or when the muscles of our minds deteriorate to lack of exercise: examining the life of God must coalesce with participating in **true rating 4.5 If Socrates claims, "the unexamined life is not worth living," then Johnson might equally claim, "the undisciplined life is not worth theologizing." There is beauty in examining the life of God (theology) and creation in light of it. However, like all human endeavors, beauty diminishes in value and power when the gardens of our souls seize to be tended or when the muscles of our minds deteriorate to lack of exercise: examining the life of God must coalesce with participating in the life of Christ by the Spirit. To be in Christ is to think like Christ; to think like Christ is to be like Christ; to be like Christ is to be. cf. www.sooholee.wordpress.com

  12. 4 out of 5

    Jeff

    Okay, I admit it. I judged this book by its cover. I bought this book in hope based on its title and the promise seemingly implied that I'd learn how to speak of the role and relationship of theology for and with discipleship. Perhaps blinded by my own expectations, I missed what was right before my eyes. I'm not sure. Instead, what I read was a familiar and pleasing theology. Happy for that. Okay, I admit it. I judged this book by its cover. I bought this book in hope based on its title and the promise seemingly implied that I'd learn how to speak of the role and relationship of theology for and with discipleship. Perhaps blinded by my own expectations, I missed what was right before my eyes. I'm not sure. Instead, what I read was a familiar and pleasing theology. Happy for that.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Jeff

    https://stumblingthroughtheology.word... https://stumblingthroughtheology.word...

  14. 5 out of 5

    Scott

    A nice reflection and introduction on the importance of theological study for Christian discipleship.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Shaun Brown

    My review will be published in a forthcoming issue of Stone-Campbell Journal.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Spencer R

  17. 5 out of 5

    David M

  18. 4 out of 5

    N Perrin

  19. 4 out of 5

    J.D. Carpenter

  20. 5 out of 5

    Jonny

  21. 5 out of 5

    Kyle Rapinchuk

    Keith Johnson's "Theology as Discipleship" is a helpful work that explores the link between theology and everyday Christian life. Johnson recognizes that many Christians are opposed to the task of theology because it takes away time from discipleship, yet Johnson makes a strong case that theology done rightly is in fact integral to faithful discipleship. Johnson emphasizes the centrality of a God revealed in the incarnate Jesus Christ and the outpouring of the Holy Spirit, and he proposes that f Keith Johnson's "Theology as Discipleship" is a helpful work that explores the link between theology and everyday Christian life. Johnson recognizes that many Christians are opposed to the task of theology because it takes away time from discipleship, yet Johnson makes a strong case that theology done rightly is in fact integral to faithful discipleship. Johnson emphasizes the centrality of a God revealed in the incarnate Jesus Christ and the outpouring of the Holy Spirit, and he proposes that faithful theological study leads us to think the thoughts of Christ, most poignantly evidenced in Philippians 2 and the humility of Christ. Johnson's work is perhaps more academic than many in the church will care to read, and I fear this reality may in fact confirm for many that theology is merely academic knowledge devoid of practicality. For any who read the book, this is anything but true, but sometimes stereotypes are strong and hard to break. Still, many in the church could benefit from this work if they were encouraged to give it a chance. More likely, however, this will prove a helpful book for college and seminary students in introductory theology classes.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Thomas

  23. 5 out of 5

    Gunnar Kuehl

  24. 5 out of 5

    Julia DiBiase

  25. 5 out of 5

    Emily Fromke

  26. 4 out of 5

    Mike Joyce

  27. 4 out of 5

    David

  28. 4 out of 5

    Hunter Wheatcraft

  29. 5 out of 5

    Abrahm Duarte

  30. 4 out of 5

    S McDonald

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